published on May 3, 2022 - 3:32 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Two local Valley health providers have agreed on a grant that will allow the opening of a child and adolescent crisis stabilization unit.

Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a grant of over $4.9 million to partner with Kaweah Health in order to create the center.

The grant, provided by the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, allows Kaweah Health to build a 24-hour site for youth in crisis — the first in the Central Valley.

The center will provide around-the-clock crisis services for those 21 years and younger, and will consist of a 12-bed unit with an additional four private rooms for acutely agitated children and youth, those with severe mental illnesses, or very young children to separate them for safety.

The center will operate year-round, including holidays.

“Mental health and wellness is a major issue in Tulare County. Children are among the most impacted portions of our population, especially as a result of the COVID pandemic,” said Kaweah Health’s Chief Strategy Officer Marc Mertz. “This tremendous grant will enable Kaweah Health and our partners from the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency to develop and operate a new facility designed specifically for addressing the mental health and wellness needs of our youth.”

Kaweah Health plans to staff the facility thanks to its Graduate Medical Education Psychiatry Residency program and a new Child and Adolescent fellowship.

The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Training Program’s goal is to train child and adolescent psychiatrists to assist in the health of Valley youth and their families.

“Our fellows will be capable of practicing in a variety of settings, with an emphasis on caring for the underserved and in rural communities,” said Program Director Dr. Cory Jaques.

The program has resulted in roughly half of its graduates continuing to practice in the area or receive future training.

Kaweah Health’s West Campus houses a 60-bed mental health hospital, in addition to behavioral health treatment options at its Lindsay and Exeter rural health clinics.

Grant funds will be accepted and executed with an agreement between Kaweah Health and Tulare County HHSA after approval by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

“Without this grant funding, the development of this facility would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible,” said Mertz.

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